Stephen Malkmus Roots for the Bears!
Left Coaster pulls out some Pavement at the Parish
By Neph Basedow,
11:30AM, Mon. Sep. 21, 2015
Saturday’s sold-out Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks show at the Parish arrived with perks: Via RSVP, the Converse-sponsored event was free. Also gratis came the gig’s screen-printed posters, cranked onsite.
The Oregonian headliners hand-picked local ethereals Mirror Travel to open their Rubber Tracks Live date. That fuzz-rock foursome commenced cool, front woman Lauren Green’s vocals recalling the ennui of Kim Gordon with fitful Cocteau Twins-type coos. Most material plucked from the band’s 2013 LP Mexico, it was a pair of new songs from the femme foursome’s forthcoming 10-inch that grabbed, their backup vocals and quicker pace punctuating a dreamy drone.
Meanwhile, Stephen Malkmus was likely backstage watching college football, specifically the nail-biter between UT’s Longhorns and California’s Golden Bears. Within seconds of the home team’s one-point loss, the Stockton-bred sports enthusiast strolled onstage, all smiles.
“It’s nice to be here in Austin,” he welcomed. “Texas lost, but, I think the other team was better. That’s just how it goes.”
Lighthearted and lackadaisical progressed the Portlanders’ 75-minute set, the quartet frequently tapping its two most recent LPs, 2011’s Mirror Traffic and 2013’s Wig Out at Jagbags. “Stick Figures in Love,” the former’s standout, beamed in poppy excellence, as did the latter’s zany “Cinnamon and Lesbians.”
“This one’s for Highland Mall,” saluted Malkmus out of nowhere, dedicating Pig Lib’s “Animal Midnight” to Austin’s recently shuttered shopping center – now home to Austin Community College.
After debuting a new tune, the 49-year-old bandleader brandished maracas for a “karaoke” rendition of 2005’s “Freeze the Saints.” With just bandmate Mike Clark’s keys as accompaniment, the version was a disastrous delight. The singer sauntered the stage citing mic feedback, lousing lyrics, and ultimately knocking his head on the overhead speaker.
Naturally, it’s these offhand flubs that Jicks fans relish.
“I’m holding up!” the frontman later assured, a Pearl Snap Pilsner in hand. “I’ve got the West Coast advantage tonight. It’s, like, an hour earlier in my brain.”
He meant two hours, of course.
Later, the former lacrosse player dedicated Pig Lib bonus track “Old Jerry” to Dallas Cowboys manager Jerry Jones.
“He reminds me of Donald Trump,” cracked Malkmus. “They probably share the same hookers.”
Anthemic Face the Truth cut “Baby C’Mon” closed the main performance. When the band returned for an encore, the UVA grad had swapped his short-sleeve button-up for a comfier 1987 Virginia Cavaliers basketball T.
“I’m gonna play some fuckin’ Pavement tunes,” he announced. “I mean, they’re not as good as us, but you guys certainly seem to think so, so we’ll play ‘em for you.”
Digging deep, “Lions” revisited 1992’s Watery, Domestic EP, Malkmus likening the “not very familiar but still good” number to the Stooges’ “1969.” Next, the opening notes of 1997’s “Stereo” roused the crowd, but bassist Joanna Bolme – an otherwise ace player – botched the beginning.
“I wasn’t actually in Pavement,” she joked.
Regrouped, the band blasted through that Brighten the Corners number seamlessly. “It’s perfect!” roared a guy nearby as it wrapped. It was.